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Chicago Commuting, or, How I'm Learning to Save My Sanity

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Eclecticisms: Chicago Commuting, or, How I'm Learning to Save My Sanity

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicago Commuting, or, How I'm Learning to Save My Sanity

"When we get too caught up in the business of the world, we lose connection with one another- and ourselves."

-Jack Kornfield
Psychologist and Meditation Teacher


It's so hard to find ways to slow down without falling behind. I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately, and I've found my stress level peaking while commuting to work. My commute is just over an hour each way, which really isn't bad, but it adds up. The rat race gets to you after awhile.

I leave my house before 7, and walk to the Metra. I catch that to the Loop (Downtown Chicago), arriving around 7:35ish. That part of my commute is fine. Relaxing even (sometimes). It's once I join the thousands of people fighting their way through downtown when I really start to feel overwhelmed. It's every man for himself, no agreed upon rules of the road, no promises you won't want to have a good cry once you reach your destination. Tell them you have something in your eye.

Am I exaggerating? How bad can it be?

Once I get downtown, my normal walk to the CTA train I take next wasn't bad, but thanks to construction, my route has been blocked since Jan 1 and I have to walk a couple extra blocks. This wouldn't be a big deal, but those couple of blocks are MUCH busier and crowded (plus they now have all the other walkers on the detour) and full of angry people. Damn are they angry. Well, some of them. Here's the types I see most often.

1. The Business Man- Possibly my most loathed, perhaps because I have some outdated, sexist ideal that they should be courteous. (I'm not giving up on this ideal, by the way.) Many of these men refuse to move for you, no matter what the situation. They'll push past you in their ill-fitting suits and smelly loafers. I'm sorry, but I don't care if Jane in copyrighting turned you down, or if you didn't get that bigger fancy office you wanted that would have surely made up for your lacking man parts. I once passed one of these guys up, who'd been walking quite slow, and apparently he was annoyed that so many people were going around him. He proceeded to speed up and for half a block STEP ON the backs of my feet. I finally turned around and asked if he seriously felt the need to do that. His reply? He stepped on my foot again.

Who ARE these people?!

2. The Fashionista- These types come in all ages, shapes and styles. Their main goals in life (M-F, anyways) seem to be wearing the most uncomfortable, skin tight, ill fitting, blister forming clothing and shoes possible. This would be their business, only their inability to walk in said shoes is the highway equivalent to a car with a flat tire. Buy some flats. (Pun not intended.) These women are also often wearing enough perfume to kill a cat, which hurts my stomach and sets my allergies off. It's probably the reason these kinds made the no.2 slot.

3. Diagonal Walkers- "We walk diagonally with no mind to the people around us, with the occasional, unnecessary, veer in the opposite direction, just to throw you off and, if we're lucky, slam into you!", they seem to say. Are these people on medications with diagonal-walking and lack of balance as horrible side effects? If so, they need off them, fast.

4. The Retaliators- They're out for vengeance. These folks were bumped into or yelled at recently, and are going to take out their aggression on YOU. Well, you and everyone else they pass. Retaliators can be identified by an angry scowl and insistence upon walking into the paths of others, and then side-body slamming them as they pass. Not a fun lot, let me tell you.

5. The Tourist- I run into these most often on my way home, as they're snuggled up in their hotel beds at 7:30 AM, the lucky bastards. The tourists are more of a nuisance than anything else, but make the list to close it out, none the less.


There's more types. Plenty of them, actually. I'll probably think of 10 others as soon as I post this, but I think that's a fairly complete list and helps you get the idea.

Once I make it alive to the CTA, I take a second train, two stops to work.

My point? I did have one, believe it or not, though it felt damn good to rant. I've been trying extremely hard to find ways to stay positive on my commute. I don't want to be angry at the world when I'm on my way home. Overall, I've focused a lot on bringing positive energy into my life and it's worked. It's just this damn commute I can't seem to shake. I figure the more aware of it I am and the more I work on it, the less likely I am to become one of these people. That being said, I've had a couple traits of "The Retaliator" when trying to make it up the stairs at the train.

Anyone want to become my chauffeur?

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